Like Shakespeare But With Lots More Punching

I’ve been reading a lot of comics lately (shut up! It’s part of my job!) and I have to say, my favorite comic out there right now is Nextwave. Following up in a close second is Neil Gaiman’s take on the Eternals. And while the Eternals has a much better story (for those who are interested in such anachronisms of the 20th century) it follows the Gaiman formula pretty closely.* Nextwave wins out though, even if there is no story to speek of. I’ll let Warren Ellis explain it:

“I took The Authority and I stripped out all the plots, logic, character and sanity. It’s an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode.”

Seriously, there’s no real story: Five C-list Marvel characters are recruited by an anti-terrorist organization that turns out to really be a front for terrorists. So they blow shit up. But, as is with most simplistic concepts, it’s all in the execution. And Nextwave is executed brilliantly. There are funny asides, like in the Family Guy; absurd reoccurring villains, like in Monty Python (or James Bond); and monsters, like in Godzilla. There’s absolutely nothing redeeming socially, morally or spiritually, which means it is almost perfect. If it only had some sex, it would be three bucks of Nirvana on a monthly basis.

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* I mean no disrespect to Mr. Gaiman. He’s probably one of the best fantasy writers alive. But all of his stories follow the same basic formula: Normal, Boring Person is either chosen or accidentally stumbles out of his every day world into the mythic world that exists just below the mundane surface reality and is guided by a not altogether reliable native of the mythic world along a quest in order to set right a wrong/restore balance or do something mythic. As formulas go, it’s solid Joseph Campbell stuff and there are plenty of variations on the theme of self discovery. But it is a formula.